Orientation in full swing at UT

(From left to right) Kory, Karla, and Judson Herrington enjoying a quick lunch break
(From left to right) Kory, Karla and Judson Herrington enjoying a quick lunch break in the University Center

Orientation at the University of Tennessee is in full swing as incoming students and their parents arrive on campus to kick start their college careers.

The University Center is swarmed daily by the incoming freshman awaiting the arrival of the 2014 fall semester. The twelfth orientation session began today, June 24th at 7:30 a.m. as both parents and students made the walk from Clement Hall to the University Center.  These students will attend sessions to both familiarize themselves with UT and to prepare them for the upcoming freshman year.  Many parents are excited to see their children off on their journey at UT and are eager to learn more about the UT experience too.

“I like the orientation experience so far, some of it is a bit ra-ra-ra but I like to see the enthusiasm as opposed to the opposite,” said Judson Herrington  of Sevierville Tennessee, a parent of an incoming freshman Kory Herrington.  Herrington was just one of the few parents enjoying a break as lunch began for the incoming students at Smokey’s Cafe in the UC.  The cheers and familiar sights of of orientation are recognizable to students all across campus.

Kuumba Festival continues to grow

Three Free Spirit Stilt Dancers tower over the crowd June 21 at Knoxville's annual Kuumba Festival.
Three Free Spirit Stilt Dancers tower over the crowd June 21 at Knoxville’s annual Kuumba Festival.

This year’s Kuumba Festival kicked off Thursday, June 20, at Krutch Park, as a diverse group of musicians, artists, and dancers led this four-day celebration.

The Kuumba Festival is an annual event that takes place during the summer and serves as the largest African arts festival in East Tennessee. Large crowds gathered to enjoy West African song and dance routines by performers of all ages, while more than 30 vendors set up shop selling self-made foods, clothes, and keepsakes.

“The African community here (in Knoxville) knows how to party. Every year hundreds of new faces show up, not knowing what to expect but glad they came.” said Devante’ Sales, an ex-drummer and graduate of Kuumba Kamp. “When the first drum sounds, get ready to move your feet.”

The Watoto Dance and Drum Line, a youth group with over 100 members, was only one of the many acts over the course of this weekend. Grammy award winning artist Alvin Garret and American Idol’s Ruben Studdard took the stage Saturday but The Free Spirit Stilt Walkers, an African dance group from New Orleans directed by Naimah Zulu, seemed to be the crowd’s favorite overall. Standing on 7 feet stilts, they posed for pictures and participated in many dance routines.

Four year Kuumba Festival participant Shana Ward said the stilt dancers were nothing short of amazing, tip toeing around like “giants in the clouds.”

Crowds spilled into Market Square after the annual Kuumba Junkanu parade Saturday, June 22, which was shortly followed by a youth talent show and pep rally. Parents was given a chance shop at the African Marketplace, composed of varies independent vendors, while the children cheered on their peers.

Sunday, June 23, was dedicated to Gospel in the Park and ended the Kuumba Festival with a performance by BET Sunday’s Best finalist, Jacqueline Calhoun.

Roy Greys, a craftsman and Kuumba Festival vendor, remembers his first time attending Kuumba and says, “This event has taken place 24 consecutive years and every years it gets bigger and better as more people find inspiration in a new culture

African-American Appalachian Arts and other local businesses helped sponsor this event.

Pepper Place stirs up interest

Locals to Birmingham, Alabama walked from booth to booth last Saturday morning at the Pepper Place Farmers Market to see and buy products from native farmers, craftsmen, and artists in their area.

This market is in its thirteenth year of helping local farmers connect with an estimate of seven thousand to ten thousand city natives every Saturday morning from April to December.

“We are putting the customer across the counter from the farmer” said Franklin Biggs, Chief Volunteer and one of the founding board members for Pepper Place Farmers Market.

The market seeks to encourage a family-like community for locals seeking fresh produce and hand-made gifts and crafts.

Biggs stated that the market was established to help save family farms, and they believe it has shown great results.

Allison Bohorfoush is a jewelry artist working with the Alabama Designer Craftsmen Company selling her pieces at a booth in the Pepper Place market.

Bohorsoush said she has been very pleased with the market and plans to continue selling here at the market.DSC_0111

Surf competition helps high schoolers go to college

The Surfari Club of New Smyrna Beach, FL held their 25th annual seaside fiesta surf competition on June 22.

Competition was open to amateurs from ages 14 to 47 separated into five heats. Heat winners competed in a championship round, where they fought for a handmade wooden trophy. All proceeds from the event went to the scholarship program at New Smyrna Beach High School.

Hailey Roberts, a vacationing spectator, said that she was expecting to see professionals surfing the waves but was happy to come and support the high school.

“It was pretty fun to come out here today to surf and support my old high school. The Surfari Club has been doing this a long time so everyone in NSB gets excited when they come to watch,” said Jack Wade, a competitor.

The Club has awarded over $60,000 to surfers at NSB High School since 1980.

Car enthusiasts flock to charity cross country car race

Car admirers gathered in Davenport, Iowa on June 23 for “The Great Race” in which competitors race along the Mississippi River for prize money, charity and to show off their vintage cars.

There is over $150,000 in prize money, with $50,000 going to the winner of the race at the end of this eight day event. Scores are based not on who arrives first, but on who arrives closest to their projected time, without the use of odometers or GPS.

“We love old cars, we have five great race cars… the most fun part is family. It can’t get any better than this,” Howard Sharp, a 22 year veteran who is in the lead after day two, said.

In 2012, the race raised $68,000 for autism, and have already raised over $14,000 this year. However, the love of cars and healthy competition is what keeps fans and competitors excited.

Brian “Motormouth” Goudge, the event announcer of 18 years, said that cities up and down the Mississippi competed heavily to be stops in the race, especially since it’s been growing in popularity. The race started in St. Paul, Minn. and ends in Mobile Ala., with notable stops being Davenport, Iowa and Germantown, Tenn.

“This year we started with 99 teams, and I believe that now, on day two, we have 92 teams. We had some really challenging drives for these cars and they’re really old. The good news is, we have 31 rookie teams — first time ever doing this event. That demonstrates to me just how popular this event is,” Goudge said.

No cars younger than 1969 models are allowed to compete in the race, and the entry fee is $5000. According to Goudge, there is almost $4 million worth of cars in the race, most of which would normally not leave museums. The event has changed routes over the years, with the original traveling from California to Indiana.



Bullfeathers’ Sing Your Way to Nashville karaoke competition underway


Forty people competed in the second annual Sing Your Way to Nashville semi-finals at Bullfeathers, karaoke bar in Knoxville at 8 p.m. on June 23.

This round of competition was narrowed down to the final 20 singing hopefuls whom will then compete for the grand prize. First prize receives $1,000 cash and a recording session at Quad Studios in Nashville. There are also cash prizes of $500 for second, $250 for third and 125 for forth place respectively.

“We are happy to host and help up and coming acts to achieve their goals,” Bullfeathers DJ, Rich Ferdy said. Ferdy helps run and organize the competition, as his family owns the bar.

Finalists were selected by audience ballot voting. Each person who entered the door before 8 p.m. received a ballot and was eligible to vote.

Many finalist were celebrating their night and were “so happy that people I do not even know came out and voted for me,” finalist Balthazar Hoskins said. He was one of the few to advance by singing a ballad that won over the crowd.

After the finalist were chosen, karaoke was open to anyone and many of the singers got on stage multiple times.

“Even though we are not advancing, karaoke is still a great way to bring different groups of people together,” attendee Madeline Lodeiro said.

The bar and competition is 21 and over.

Bullfeathers karaoke finals are on June 30 at 8 p.m.